Manufacturing our success stories
By captain Mahmood Al Mahmood
The months of July and August normally see a lull in activity in Bahrain as the Kingdom’s residents fly off for their much-needed summer break. It gives us all time to catch up on some thinking and planning for the rest of the year.
When I talk with my generation of Bahrainis – we are in our late fifties and were schoolboys when our country won its independence – I notice that there is a feeling that the success of the service industry like banking, tech, retail, tourism and hospitality have taken the emphasis off manufacturing.
I also find that in Bahrain, despite the fact that the country is relatively a small market and would do better to position itself as a hub for the Northern Gulf, we are only keen to chase the really big industries and let the smaller factories and manufacturing enterprises fall unsupported through the cracks.
This attitude must change if we are to succeed in making good our national Vision 2030 of sustainable and united growth and development for all. Manufacturing matters because, when compared to service industry jobs, it provides higher wages, commercial innovation and it also encourages workers, employers and government to share responsibility for improving the nation’s manufacturing base and to share in the gains from such improvements.
A robust manufacturing base will play a key role in introducing and promoting new technologies, facilitating international trade and enabling the efficient use of resources. But for that, we need the authorities to support those who risk their time, money and energy to set up manufacturing base here, however small it is. Our Crown Prince and PM has wisely stressed the need for encouragement of MSMEs because these hold the seeds of change and growth.
We need to scale up our manufacturing infrastructure – better manufacturing incubators, reliable and cheaper power supply, a financial system that understands that manufacturing is a different cycle from the service industry. Global manufacturing growth has been steadily declining, even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic hit manufacturing industries hard and caused disruptions in global value chains and the supply of products. But now we are in recovery mode and the Ministry of Industry & Commerce must put its hands on the job and accelerate the development of our manufacturing sector if they are to meet the 2030 target.
Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editorin-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism.